11/8/14

Hack the WebSummit – Appunti per 2015

Ecco alcuni appunti presi durante questa meravigliosa fiera delle startup di tutto il mondo, divisi per area di pertinenza.

Investitori:

  • Approccio: Pensare di arrivare qua e incontrare un’investitore, approcciarlo e farsi strappare un assegno rimane comunque qualcosa di molto sfidante. Gli investitori hanno il braccialetto rosso, e girano per il summit in cerca di idee, persone o prodotti interessanti. Spesso sono loro ad approcciarti, ma questo non esclude che tu li possa fermare per scambiare due chiacchiere. Chiaramente sarà un po’ come fermare una persona in discoteca per chiedergli di uscire a bere qualcosa e magari andare oltre. Per questo il mio consiglio, sopratutto per i meno espansivi è di usare tattiche differenti.
  • A chi rivolgersi: Scegliere il proprio investitore è molto importante sopratutto in base allo stato di avanzamento della propria idea. Se infatti andate a presentare un’idea, anche se molto innovativa, potrebbe non avere molto senso approcciare “Index Ventures”, al contrario se avete una startup con 500.000 utenti allora bisogna puntare alle blu-chips.


Pitch and Exhibition:

  • Exhibition: Se avete scelto di fare exhibition allora vi troverete al vostro bancone, con, il vostro cartellone, pronti per la vostra demo. Qua sono fondamentali due cose: come farsi notare tra le altre migliaia di startup, ma sopratutto chi fermare. Investitori ne passano pochi, e come già detto non sarete gli unici a volerli fermare, quindi fondamentale decidere a chi rivolgersi.
  • Strategia di comunicazione: Potete decidere il modo di comunicare, se attraverso una demo, se attraverso un iPad che mostra il vostro prodotto, ma ricordatevi un backup plan per la rete (vedi sotto). Consigliato avere qualcosa da lasciare dopo l adesso e qua potete chiaramente decidere se tra volantini, tra Business cards, o se gadget. Questi ultimi spesso, sono i più richiesti. Se pensate di vestirvi da ninja, o tutti coordinati con un completo coloratissimo, sappiate che non sarete gli unici.
  • Sopra il palco – Pitch contest: Se siate stati scelti per salire sul palco (ce ne sono tre), beh allora vivrete il vostro momento di gloria presentando la vostra startup al pubblico e ad una giuria di tre persone che ogni volta cambia. Appuntandomi un po’ di domande, le più classiche sono le seguenti:
    • Business model, come pensate di fare soldi e se il business è un business scalabile/milardario
    • Di quali risorse hai bisogno per espandersi
    • come hanno risolto eventuali regolamenti che possono bloccare il prodotto o eventuali problemi di privacy
    • Eventuali grandi competitor che potrebbero farvi chiudere i battenti


Backup Plan:

  • Preparasi al peggio: Nella preparazione preparasi sempre a tutto e curare i dettagli. Ci sono piccole cose che vi metteranno i bastoni tra le ruote. Come ad esempio il WiFi che non funziona (come successo durante il WebSummit2014) oppure alla presenza di altre tre startup che hanno la vostra stessa identica idea/prodotto.

Curiosità

  • Apple rules: Sembra che senza avere almeno un dispositivo Apple non puoi fare startup.
  • Business Card: Partecipando ad una fiera sul web tecnologia pensare che la forma di comunicazione più usata per scambiarsi i contatti, o forse l’unica, sia la “business card” (biglietto da visita) fa un po’ sorridere. Quindi preparasi una bella scorta se si vuole fare networking e lavorateci su. Più bella la fate, più la gente la noterà tra le centinaia che ha collezionato.

 

07/11/09

thefounded.com open letter to Fred Wilson

It is shocking to see someone as smart as Fred Wilson say: “The venture industry is not broken, but some of the participants in it are.”

http://tinyurl.com/p2j6vb

Let’s take a look at this statement for a moment. The model of taking other people’s money and investing it into startups for 2% as a management fee and 20% as carry is not inherently broken. That’s like saying the model of selling hamburgers is broken. If everyone sold hamburgers that killed the consumers, then you could argue that selling hamburgers was broken. Similarly, the infamous “2 and 20” model breeds widespread bad behavior and poor performance, which is essentially the same as being broken. So, how is it broken?
Well, most venture capitalists have started to optimize for management fees versus carried interest, or sharing in the profits generated. It simply makes sense to raise larger funds every two or three years so that each partner can earn $2 or $3 million a year in guaranteed fees. With exits taking longer and failures rampant, praying to generate personal returns from the carry after paying back your principle is unrealistic. Returns are too uncertain, and some funds have been unable to return the principle, forget profits. And, the math is clear: a 2% management fee over 10 years generates a little less than $50 MM in fees on a $250 MM fund. Meanwhile, a 2x return on a $250 MM fund also generates $50 MM in carry, yet the carry is a lot harder to get, takes a lot longer, and is much more uncertain than the fees.
Venture capitalists pump new fund money into the “flavor of the moment” industries at a staggering rate. The goal is to quickly empty out an existing fund to make way for raising a new fund and to start earning the management fees. Firms only earn fees on invested capital, creating an incentive to invest quickly in “hot” industries without much thought. This roulette table investment strategy, where everyone bets on an industry in a short period of time, barely worked with telecom and the internet, but it looks like an abysmal failure with Web 2.0 and cleanteach. It seems like “0” and “00” have come up back-to-back. There are many analogies to justify the roulette strategy, like the “rising tide floats all boats” or “safety in numbers.” You could also use the analogy: “lambs to the slaughter.”
Caring about the entrepreneur has become an afterthought, almost a myth. What firms care about is raising their next fund and returning the principle. It’s become a game. Return some principle, then raise a new fund. As a result, great entrepreneurs rarely go into venture capital anymore. It’s financial three card monte, not entrepreneurship support. Meanwhile, all of the junior associates employed in venture capital need career mobility. These business school jockeys were brought in to identify classmates as funding targets and to run complex capitalization table analysis. The next thing you know, venture firms are populated with b-school grads as partners, who, in turn, are hiring and promoting more b-school grads. Now there are a bunch of “career venture capitalists” with no idea on how to start or grow a company besides watching others from the sidelines.
If all of this were not problematic enough, the current venture capital model requires deal syndication to justify next round valuations, ensuring that many different firms work together, whether they like it or not. The problem is that behavior in a syndicate deal can only be as good as the best investor, and is likely to be just a little better than the actions of the biggest jerk. For example, if one partner in a deal is constantly trying to oust management and take over a company, it’s difficult for all of the other investors to fight this behavior. Even good investors with good intentions often take a back seat to the jerks, and they’re quick to write off a deal, while sipping cappuccinos brewed off the fat of their fees. Preferred voting rights and shareholder politics are so complex that jerks prevail.
So, Fred Wilson said that venture capitalists need to look at the entrepreneurs “as the client.” Essentially, he is saying that the model is not broken, just everyone is doing it wrong by focusing on the fees. Maybe the model encourages people to do it wrong, Fred. Wake up.

01/2/09

Google tell user to drop IE6, i don’t!

Google aver ever suggested to users drop ie6 and switch to modern browser. Now bigG don’t support ie6 user anymore. Recently other web-based app acted like google. I understand that ie6 sucks but a web app should work with any browser.
Maybe not all the function could works or you could have some UI problems but any javascript browser should be supported. This is my opinion, naturally and this the way i take my decision for my webapp Kontup. It’s designed to work with FF2.0 and above but it works with any browser. In Safari or IE6 you could find some bugs, but anyway it works! I took this decision because if you could decide which browser to install on your PC, maybe if you wish to acceess to your data from anywhere like a webapp should do, you must have the chance to really do it!

12/15/08

Ringtone apps

Interesting article from furbo.org [link]

 

Dear Steve,

As an iPhone developer who’s been in the App Store since its launch, I’m starting to see a trend that concerns me: developers are lowering prices to the lowest possible level in order to get favorable placement in iTunes. This proliferation of 99¢ “ringtone apps” is affecting our product development.

Unlike a lot of other developers, I’m not going to give you suggestions on what to do about this: you and your team are perfectly capable of dealing with it on your own terms. Rather, I’d like to give you some insight into how these ringtone apps are affecting my business.

Both of our products, Frenzic and Twitterrific, have been quite successful in the App Store. Frenzic is currently in What’s Hot and Twitterrific appears in both the Top Free and Top Paid Apps for 2008. We also won an ADA at this year’s WWDC. It hasn’t been easy, but we’ve learned what it takes to make a kick ass product for the iPhone.

The problem now is funding those products.

We have a lot of great ideas for iPhone applications. Unfortunately, we’re not working on the cooler (and more complex) ideas. Instead, we’re working on 99¢ titles that have a limited lifespan and broad appeal. Market conditions make ringtone apps most appealing.

Before commencing any new iPhone development, we look at the numbers and evaluate the risk of recouping our investment on a new project. Both developers and designers cost somewhere between $150-200 per hour. For a three man month project, let’s say that’s about $80K in development costs. To break even, we have to sell over 115K units. Not impossible with a good concept and few of weeks of prominent placement in iTunes.

But what happens when we start talking about bigger projects: something that takes 6 or even 9 man months? That’s either $150K or $225K in development costs with a break even at 215K or 322K units. Unless you have a white hot title, selling 10-15K units a day for a few weeks isn’t going to happen. There’s too much risk.

Raising your price to help cover these costs makes it hard to get to the top of the charts. (You’re competing against a lot of other titles in the lower price tier.) You also have to come to terms with the fact that you’re only going to be featured for a short time, so you have to make the bulk of your revenue during this period.

This is why we’re going for simple and cheap instead of complex and expensive. Not our preferred choice, but the one that’s fiscally responsible.

I’m also concerned that this “making it up in volume” approach won’t last too much longer. With 10,000 apps in the App Store, it’s already a fricken’ cat fight to get into one of the top 100 spots. What’s it going to be like when there are 20,000 apps? Or 100,000 apps? Volume is going to get split amongst a lot of players, hopefully the number of devices/customers will increase at the same rate.

We’re not afraid of competition. In fact, we welcome it as a way to improve our products and business. The thing we’re hoping for is a way to rise above the competition when we do our job well, not just when we have the lowest price.

I’ve been thinking about what’s causing this rush to the 99¢ price point. From what I can tell, it’s because people are buying our products sight unseen. I see customers complaining about how “expensive” a $4.99 app is and that it should cost less. (Do they do the same thing when they walk into Starbucks?) The only justification I can find for these attitudes is that you only have a screenshot to evaluate the quality of a product. A buck is easy to waste on an app that looks great in iTunes but works poorly once you install it.

Our products are a joy to use: as you well know, customers are willing to pay a premium for a quality products. This quality comes at a cost—which we’re willing to incur. The issue is then getting people to see that our $2.99 product really is worth three times the price of a 99¢ piece of crapware.

I also worry that this low price point for applications is going to limit innovation on the platform. Sure, apps like Ocarina and Koi Pond are very cool and very cheap. But when are we going to see the utility of the platform taken to another level, like when spreadsheets appeared on the Apple ][ and desktop publishing appeared on the Mac? (It could be argued that Safari has already accomplished this, but I still think there is a third party idea that will be just as transformative.)

It would be great if the killer app for the iPhone cost 99¢, but given the numbers above I can’t see it being very likely.

Thanks for your time and attention. I hope this information has been helpful.

Best regards,

Craig Hockenberry

 

07/31/08

Google in the Venture Capital field?

Google Inc. is working on plans to start a venture-capital arm, according to some rumors.

The group will be lead by David Drummond, Google’s senior vice president of corporate development and chief legal officer, according to two of these people.

What’s sure is that Google has hired William Maris, a 33-year entrepreneur who has worked as an investor, to help set up the venture

Google is able to attract attention every time it moves itself.

06/26/08

Structural Change Is Always a Good Theme to Invest In

I found very interisting Testcrunch article.

In particular when they write: Albert Wenger, a partner at Union Square Ventures, notes that we might be a little bit ahead of ourselves in the hype cycle (see slide), but that the impact of some of the changes we are just now seeing now on the Web will eventually catch up to the hype.

And this phrases:

Each of the presenters outlined some of the themes their venture firms are trying to ride. They all boil down to structural change in one form or another. […] The structural changes and other shifts that Union Square likes to invest in include:

  • The decline of the firm and the rise of one-to-one commerce
  • Merging of cyberspace and real space
  • Unified identity (across different sites and services)
  • Generational shift
  • Global growth of the Web
  • Mobile

05/29/08

Address book sync Google contacts in MacOSX 10.5.3

Are you one of those people who find that no matter how hard you try to keep your contact info organized, it always winds up scattered all over? Your dad’s IM handle is on your Mac, while that business lead’s fax number is on your iPhone, and lots of email addresses are in your Gmail address book — except your eye doctor’s, which is the one you really need right now…

We’re happy to tell you that starting today, it’s easier to sync up your contact lists. The Address Book application in Mac OS X 10.5.3 now lets iPhone users sync their Address Book with Google Contacts. To try it, go to the Address Book menu, choose Preferences, and then check Synchronize with Google. It’ll ask for your Google account and password, then automatically update your contacts every time you sync your iPhone.

Before you try syncing, it’s a good idea to back up both your Address Book contacts and Gmail contacts.

05/16/08

Icahn vs Yahoo board

Carl C. Icahn
ICAHN CAPITAL LP
767 Fifth Avenue, 47th Floor
New York, NY 10153

May 15, 2008

Roy Bostock
Chairman
Yahoo! Inc.
701 First Avenue
Sunnyvale, CA 94089

Dear Mr. Bostock:

It is clear to me that the board of directors of Yahoo has acted irrationally and lost the faith of shareholders and Microsoft. It is quite obvious that Microsoft’s bid of $33 per share is a superior alternative to Yahoo’s prospects on a standalone basis. I am perplexed by the board’s actions. It is irresponsible to hide behind management’s more than overly optimistic financial forecasts. It is unconscionable that you have not allowed your shareholders to choose to accept an offer that represented a 72% premium over Yahoo’s closing price of $19.18 on the day before the initial Microsoft offer. I and many of your shareholders strongly believe that a combination between Yahoo and Microsoft would form a dynamic company and more importantly would be a force strong enough to compete with Google on the Internet.

During the past week, a number of shareholders have asked me to lead a proxy fight to attempt to remove the current board and to establish a new board which would attempt to negotiate a successful merger with Microsoft, something that in my opinion the current board has completely botched. I believe that a combination between Microsoft and Yahoo is by far the most sensible path for both companies. I have therefore taken the following actions: (1) during the last 10 days, I have purchased approximately 59 million shares and share-equivalents of Yahoo; (2) I have formed a 10-person slate which will stand for election against the current board; and (3) I have sought antitrust clearance from the Federal Trade Commission to acquire up to approximately $2.5 billion worth of Yahoo stock. The biographies of the members of our slate are attached to this letter. A more formal notification is being delivered today to Yahoo under separate cover.

While it is my understanding that you do not intend to enter into any transaction that would impede a Microsoft-Yahoo merger, I am concerned that in several recent press releases you stated that you intend to pursue certain “strategic alternatives”. I therefore hope and trust that if there is any question that these “strategic alternatives” might in any way impede a future Microsoft merger you will at the very least allow shareholders to opine on them before embarking on such a transaction.

I sincerely hope you heed the wishes of your shareholders and move expeditiously to negotiate a merger with Microsoft, thereby making a proxy fight unnecessary.

Sincerely yours,

CARL C. ICAHN

SLATE BIOGRAPHIES

Lucian A. Bebchuk

Lucian Bebchuk is the William J. Friedman and Alicia Townsend Friedman Professor of Law, Economics, and Finance and Director of the Program on Corporate Governance at Harvard Law School. Bebchuk is also a Research Associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research and Inaugural Fellow of the European Corporate Governance Network. Trained in both law and economics, Bebchuk holds an LL.M. and S.J.D. from Harvard Law School and an M.A. and Ph.D in Economics from the Harvard Economics Department. He joined the Harvard Law School faculty in 1986 as an assistant professor, becoming a full professor in 1988, and the Friedman Professor of Law, Economics and Finance in 1998. Bebchuk has written extensively on corporate governance, corporate control, and corporate transactions. He has published more than seventy research articles in academic journals in law, economics, and finance. Upon electing him to membership in 2000, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences cited him as “[o]ne of the nation’s leading scholars of law and economics,” who “has made major contribution to the study of corporate control, governance, and insolvency.” He is the 2007-2008 President of the American Law and Economics Association, and a former chair of the Business Association Section of the American Association of Law Teachers. Bebchuk’s recent writings include Pay without Performance: the Unfulfilled Promise of Executive Compensation (Harvard University Press, 2004, co-authored with Jesse Fried), “The Case for Increasing Shareholder Power” (Harvard Law Review, 2005), “The Costs of Entrenched Boards” (Journal of Financial Economics, 2005, co-authored with Alma Cohen), and “The Myth of the Shareholder Franchise” (Virginia Law Review, 2007). Bebchuk has been a frequent contributor to policy making and public discourse in the corporate governance area. He has appeared before the Senate Finance Committee, the House Committee of Financial Services, and the SEC. He has published many op-ed pieces, including in the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, and the Financial Times. He was included in the list of “100 most influential people in finance” of Treasury & Risk Management and the list of “100 most influential players in corporate governance” of Directorship magazine.

Frank J. Biondi, Jr.

Since March 1999, Mr. Biondi has served as Senior Managing Director of WaterView Advisors LLC, an investment advisor organization. From April 1996 to November 1998, Mr. Biondi served as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Universal Studios, Inc. From July 1987 to January 1996, Mr. Biondi served as President and Chief Executive Officer of Viacom, Inc. Mr. Biondi is a director of Amgen Inc., Cablevision Systems Corp., Hasbro, Inc., The Bank of New York Mellon Corporation and Seagate Technology. Mr. Biondi is a graduate of Princeton University and earned a Masters of Business Administration from Harvard University.

John H. Chapple

John Chapple is President of Hawkeye Investments LLC, a privately-owned equity firm investing primarily in telecommunications and real estate ventures frequently working in conjunction with Rally Capital LLC. Prior to forming Hawkeye, John Chapple worked to organize Nextel Partners, a provider of digital wireless services in mid-size and smaller markets throughout the U.S. He became the President, Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board of Nextel Partners and its subsidiaries in August of 1998. Nextel Partners went public in February 2000 and was traded on the NASDAQ Exchange. In June 2006, the company was purchased by Sprint Communications. From 1995 to 1997, Mr. Chapple was the President and Chief Operating Officer for Orca Bay Sports and Entertainment in Vancouver, B.C. During Mr. Chapple’s tenure, Orca Bay owned and operated Vancouver’s National Basketball Association and National Hockey League sports franchises in addition to the General Motors Place sports arena and retail interests. From 1988 to 1995, he served as Executive Vice President of Operations for McCaw Cellular Communications and subsequently AT&T Wireless Services following the merger of those companies. From 1978 to 1983, he served on the senior management team of Rogers Cablesystems before moving to American Cablesystems as Senior Vice President of Operations from 1983 to 1988. Mr. Chapple, a graduate of Syracuse University and Harvard University’s Advanced Management Program, has 26 years of experience in the cable television and wireless communications industries. Mr. Chapple is the past Chairman of Cellular One Group and CTIA-The Wireless Association, past Vice-Chairman of the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association and has been on the Board of Governors of the NHL and NBA. Mr. Chapple serves on the Syracuse University Board of Trustees currently as Chairman and the Advisory Board for the Maxwell School of Syracuse University. He is also on the Board of Directors of Cbeyond, Inc., a publicly traded Atlanta-based integrated service telephony company; Seamobile Enterprises, a privately held company providing integrated wireless services at sea; Telesphere, a privately held VOIP (voice over internet protocol) company based in Phoenix, Arizona; and on the advisory boards of Diamond Castle Holdings, LLC, a private equity firm based in New York City and the Daniel J. Evans School of Public Affairs at University of Washington.

Mark Cuban

Since early 2000, Mr. Cuban has been the majority and controlling owner of the National Basketball Association franchise, the Dallas Mavericks. In 2001, Mr. Cuban co-founded HDNet, an all high-definition television network on DIRECTV that broadcasts high-definition sports, movies and other entertainment. Prior to his purchase of the Dallas Mavericks, Mr. Cuban co- founded Broadcast.com in 1995 and served as its Chairman of the Board until it was sold to Yahoo! in July of 1999. Before Broadcast.com, Mr. Cuban co-founded MicroSolutions, a national systems integrator, in 1983, which was later sold to CompuServe Corporation in 1990. Mr. Cuban is an active investor in cutting- edge technologies and various industries, including the entertainment industry.

Adam Dell

Since January 2000, Mr. Dell has served as the Managing General Partner of Impact Venture Partners, a venture capital firm focused on information technology investments. He also serves as Managing Director at Steelpoint Capital Partners, a private equity firm with offices in New York and California. From October 1998 to January 2000, Mr. Dell was a Senior Associate and subsequently a Partner with Crosspoint Venture Partners in Northern California. From July 1997 to August 1998, he was a Senior Associate with Enterprise Partners in Southern California. From January 1996 to June 1997 Mr. Dell was associated with the law firm of Winstead Sechrest & Minick, in Austin, Texas, where he practiced corporate law. Mr. Dell’s investments include: Buzzsaw (which was acquired by Autodesk), HotJobs (which was acquired by Yahoo!) and Connectify (which was acquired by Kana Software). Mr. Dell has been a director of XO Holdings, Inc., a telecommunications services provider, since February 2006, and of its predecessor from January 2003 to February 2006. In addition, Mr. Dell currently serves on the boards of directors of the Santa Fe Institute, MessageOne and OpenTable. He also teaches a course at the Columbia Business School on business, technology and innovation and is a contributing columnist to the technology publication, Business 2.0. Mr. Dell received a J.D. from University of Texas and a B.A. from Tulane University.

Carl C. Icahn

Mr. Icahn has served as chairman of the board and a director of Starfire Holding Corporation, a privately-held holding company, and chairman of the board and a director of various subsidiaries of Starfire, since 1984. Since August 2007, through his position as Chief Executive Officer of Icahn Capital LP, a wholly owned subsidiary of Icahn Enterprises L.P., and certain related entities, Mr. Icahn’s principal occupation is managing private investment funds, including Icahn Partners LP, Icahn Partners Master Fund LP, Icahn Partners Master Fund II L.P. and Icahn Partners Master Fund III L.P. Prior to August 2007, Mr. Icahn conducted this occupation through his entities CCI Onshore Corp. and CCI Offshore Corp since September 2004. Since November 1990, Mr. Icahn has been chairman of the board of Icahn Enterprises G.P. Inc., the general partner of Icahn Enterprises L.P. Icahn Enterprises L.P. is a diversified holding company engaged in a variety of businesses, including investment management, metals, real estate and home fashion. Mr. Icahn was chairman of the board and president of Icahn & Co., Inc., a registered broker- dealer and a member of the National Association of Securities Dealers, from 1968 to 2005. Mr. Icahn has served as chairman of the board and as a director of American Railcar Industries, Inc., a company that is primarily engaged in the business of manufacturing covered hopper and tank railcars, since 1994. From October 1998 through May 2004, Mr. Icahn was the president and a director of Stratosphere Corporation, the owner and operator of the Stratosphere Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, which, until February 2008, was a subsidiary of Icahn Enterprises L.P. From September 2000 to February 2007, Mr. Icahn served as the chairman of the board of GB Holdings, Inc., which owned an interest in Atlantic Coast Holdings, Inc., the owner and operator of The Sands casino in Atlantic City until November 2006. Mr. Icahn has been chairman of the board and a director of XO Holdings, Inc., a telecommunications services provider, since February 2006, and of its predecessor from January 2003 to February 2006. Mr. Icahn has served as a Director of Cadus Corporation, a company engaged in the ownership and licensing of yeast-based drug discovery technologies since July 1993. In May 2005, Mr. Icahn became a director of Blockbuster Inc., a provider of in-home movie rental and game entertainment. In October 2005, Mr. Icahn became a director of WestPoint International, Inc., a manufacturer of bed and bath home fashion products. In September 2006, Mr. Icahn became a director of ImClone Systems Incorporated, a biopharmaceutical company, and since October 2006 has been the chairman of the board of ImClone. In August 2007, Mr. Icahn became a director of WCI Communities, Inc., a homebuilding company, and since September 2007 has been the chairman of the board of WCI. In December 2007, Mr. Icahn became a director of Federal-Mogul Corporation, a supplier of automotive products, and since January 2008 has been the chairman of the board of Federal-Mogul. In April 2008, Mr. Icahn became a director of Motricity, Inc., a privately-held company that provides mobile content services and solutions. Mr. Icahn received his B.A. from Princeton University.

Keith A. Meister

Since March 2006, Keith Meister has served as Principal Executive Officer and Vice Chairman of the Board of Icahn Enterprises G.P. Inc., the general partner of Icahn Enterprises L.P., a diversified holding company engaged in a variety of businesses, including investment management, metals, real estate and home fashion. Since November 2004, Mr. Meister has been a Managing Director of Icahn Capital LP, the entity through which Carl C. Icahn manages third party private investment funds. Since June 2002, Mr. Meister has served as senior investment analyst of High River Limited Partnership, an entity primarily engaged in the business of holding and investing in securities. Mr. Meister also serves on the boards of directors of the following companies: XO Holdings, Inc., a telecommunications company; WCI Communities, Inc., a homebuilding company; Federal-Mogul Corporation, a supplier of automotive products; and Motorola, Inc., a mobile communications company. With respect to each company mentioned above, Carl C. Icahn, directly or indirectly, either (i) controls such company or (ii) has an interest in such company through the ownership of securities. Mr. Meister received an A.B. in government, cum laude, from Harvard College in 1995.

Edward H. Meyer

Mr. Meyer serves as Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and Chief Investment Officer of Ocean Road Advisors, Inc., an investment management company. From 1970 to 2006, he served as Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and President of Grey Global Group, Inc., a multi-billion dollar global advertising and marketing agency. Mr. Meyer serves as a Director of Harman International Industries, Inc., Ethan Allen Interiors, Inc., National CineMedia, Inc. and NRDC Acquisition Corp. Mr. Meyer holds a B.A. in Economics from Cornell University.

Brian S. Posner

Brian S. Posner is a private investor. From 2005 through March 2008, he served as Chief Executive Officer and co-Chief Investment Officer of ClearBridge Advisors LLC (and its predecessor company, CAM North America), an asset management company based in New York with approximately $90 billion in assets and a wholly owned subsidiary of Legg Mason Inc. Prior to ClearBridge Advisors, he was a co-Founder and the Managing Partner of Hygrove Partners LLC, a hedge fund company that was formed in 2000. Prior to ClearBridge Advisors and Hygrove Partners, he served as a Portfolio Manager and an Analyst, first at Fidelity Investments from 1987 to 1996 and then at Warburg Pincus Asset Management/Credit Suisse Asset Management from 1997 to 1999. At Warburg Pincus Asset Management/Credit Suisse Asset Management he was a Managing Director and served as the Senior Investment Manager of the Value Equity Group, co-Portfolio Manager of the Warburg Pincus Growth & Income Fund, and Portfolio Manager of the Warburg Pincus Institutional Value Fund and the Warburg Pincus Trust, Growth and Income Fund. Prior to the acquisition of Warburg Pincus Asset Management (”WPAM”) by Credit Suisse Asset Management in July 1999, he was co-Chief Investment Officer, Director of Research, Chairman of the Global Asset Allocation Committee, and a member of the Executive Operating Committee at WPAM. At Fidelity Investments, he was the Portfolio Manager of the Fidelity Equity Income II Fund from 1992 to 1996 and the Fidelity Value Fund from 1990 to 1992. He also managed the Select Life Insurance, Select Property Casualty Insurance and Select Energy Portfolios. From 1987 to 1990, he was an Oil, Insurance, and Financial Services Analyst. From August 2000 to April 2003 he served on the Board of Directors for Sotheby’s Holdings, Inc. He currently a member of the Board of Trustees at Northwestern University and the Board of Visitors for the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences at Northwestern University. Mr. Posner received his undergraduate degree in history from Northwestern University in 1983 and his M.B.A. in finance from the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business in 1987.

Robert K. Shaye

Robert Shaye is Co-Chairman and Co-CEO of New Line Cinema. As the Founder of New Line Cinema and a filmmaker himself, Robert Shaye has spent more than 40 years developing and distributing films that reflect a wide array of cultural movements, creating new paradigms for the motion picture business, and most importantly, entertaining millions of moviegoers. Since he founded New Line in 1967, Shaye has guided the company’s growth from a privately-held art film distributor to one of the entertainment industry’s leading independent studios and a veritable box office force. He has been involved in such films as The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Rush Hour, Austin Powers and Seven. A University of Michigan graduate with a degree in business administration and a J.D. degree from Columbia University Law School, Shaye is also a Fulbright Scholar, member of the New York State Bar, and serves on the Board of Trustees of the Motion Picture Pioneers, and the American Film Institute.